Thursday, July 7, 2011

Spiking Chad Qualls

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."  John Lennon

That's my best explanation for the silence over here these past 6 days.  In the interim, San Diego scored 2 runs (one gifted to them courtesy of the Phil Cuzzi Foundation) at Seattle, then hung 5 runs each on 2 San Francisco All-Star starters.  They'd be going for the sweep today if not for the rare Mike Adams hiccup in last night's eighth inning.  Well that and 17 consecutive Padres retired by the Giant bullpen to close out the game.

I want to go back to Wednesday's 5-3 triumph for a moment, because this headline caught my eye today:

"Quals Being Excoriated in San Francisco"

First, excoriated is one of my all-time favorite words.  Increase your vocabulary:  'excoriated' means to denounce or berate severely, to flay verbally.  Hat Tip to Chris Jenkins for using it in his lede.  Second, this article shows how ridiculous sports talk has become.

Sports are played with emotion.  This is more obvious in some sports, like football, than others.  Sometimes I think people consider baseball more a 19th century-type gentlemen's competition instead of an emotional gut-check.  Those folks aren't privy to a good rivalry where it's apparent emotion runs high.  San Francisco vs San Diego developed that edge last season down the stretch, and it's carried over this year, if the last 3 games are any indication.  Whether or not the players admit it, these games have had a playoff edge, which shouldn't exist in July between the first and 4th place teams in a division.

So there's that going in.  Then there's the inning itself.  Andres Torres is a pest. Pest Pest Pest Pest (I mean that in the most respectful way), as evidenced by his 16-pitch walk that started this fracas with one out.  Qualls threw every pitch he had at Torres, who kept fouling the good ones off and taking the ones he couldn't hit.  Despite the fact that ball 4 looked like strike 3 on the replay, he worked the walk.  Chad, knowing the Giants were down 2 and that Torres was probably going, threw over a couple of times to keep Andres close, but Torres stole second anyway.

Now he's an even bigger pest.  Torres gets to third on Crawford's 4-3 groundout, and when the 2-2 pitch skips away from Hundley he takes off for the plate.  Normally the runner beats the throw home, because the catcher has to grab the ball, make a perfect throw to the plate that the pitcher covering can handle, and said pitcher has to both block the plate and apply the tag on the runner.  Hard to do.

Qualls did it.  Inning over, 2-run lead preserved.  Having finally retired the Pest, he spiked the ball and exulted.

Could he have handled it in a more Victorian way?  Sure.  I'm glad he did what he did though.  It was an important run kept off the board, he made a play he had no business making, and finally retired a guy who had been a major pain in his side that half-inning.  A little raw emotion is good for the soul. 

You got a problem with the occasional emoting on the field of battle?  Go watch badmiton.

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